Garth Brooks Mulls Retirement, Plenty Of Songs Still In Can

Garth Brooks, one of the most popular recording artists of the '90s and the biggest-selling country star ever, is apparently considering retirement next year in order to devote more time to his family.

Brooks made the surprise announcement during an appearance on Wednesday's episode of the "Crook & Chase" country talk show carried by The Nashville Network.

During an interview, the country star admitted that "music is not the first thing in my life anymore," and that he felt the need to spend more time with his wife, Sandy, and the couple's three daughters, aged 3, 5, and 7.

While Brooks failed to go into specifics about the pending retirement, he suggested that he would probably take the next nine months off, then make an official announcement towards the end of next year.

A publicist for Brooks' label, Capitol Nashville, had no official statement about Brooks' possible retirement, but indicated that the singer-songwriter still had plenty of finished

songs left in the can. Brooks also said he would likely continue to write songs, and perhaps film scripts.

The spokesperson said that Brooks is still lined up to star in the movie based on his "Chris Gaines" persona (see "Garth Brooks To Release Rock Concept Album"), although he hasn't formally signed on for the part. The picture is tentatively scheduled to begin filming next summer, depending upon a final approval of the script.

Over the course of his ten-year career, Brooks has received four Diamond Awards from the Recording Industry Association of America in recognition of albums that have achieved sales in excess of 10 million. Brooks' 1990 album, "No Fences" has sold 16 million, "Ropin' the Wind" (1991) has sold 14 million, "Double Live" (1998) has sold 12 million, and "The Hits" (1994) has sold 10 million.

In just this past year, Brooks stepped out of his country duds to assume a rock persona for the "In The Life

Of Chris Gaines" LP, and issued his second holiday record, "The Colors of Christmas."